'I can’t wake dad!'
Kieran Kramer of Carrigaline told the Cork Independent he remembers the very moment the insect bit him on his leg.
Shortly afterwards, in early September 2020 the 53 year old began experiencing extreme back pain but due to Covid-19 restrictions and pressure on the health service, he was not treated as an emergency patient.
However, when the pain became unbearable, his doctor agreed to see him on 9 September and he was prescribed Difine and Solpadol for the pain. Kieran went home to bed and remembers little after that.
“My son called his sister and said, ‘I can't wake dad!’. I was lucky the ambulance came when it did because I was told 20 minutes later I'd have been dead,” he said.
Kieran was immediately rushed to hospital where it was discovered he had gone into septic shock which had stemmed from the horsefly bite.
To his surprise, doctors informed him that he had previously contracted Covid-19 and that the resulting antibodies had reacted with the toxin in the sting and caused the sepsis.
“I was in a coma for days. I had nine surgeries between my leg and my neck. I was six weeks in ICU with people dying on the left hand side of me and people dying on the right hand side of me. I was saying, ‘When is it my turn, am I next?’,” he said.
Kieran said he never knew he had Covid-19 and that he must have been asymptomatic.
In February, Kieran was transferred to Dun Laoghaire National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Dublin where he stayed for five months.His ordeal had initially left him with no use of his arms or legs, however, during his time at the NRH he regained a lot of his upper body movement.
He said: “They say the first three months after something like this tells a lot. I couldn’t move anything from the neck down at the very start. It was a long time before even my fingers moved for me. I remember a nurse ran passed the room one day and she flew back and said, ‘Did I just see you scratch your chin?’. I said, ‘I think I did!’.”
Having been allowed to spend time in Cork and be with family and friends earlier this year, Kieran is now back in Dun Laoghaire where he hopes to continue his recovery. The severity of the sepsis has left Kieran in a wheelchair with no mobility in his right leg, little movement in his left and no muscle working in his glutes.
“I was hoping this time that I would be walking out the door but that’s not going to happen. Certain nerves did not repair. I’m at an acceptance stage now, I really am, but I’m still not going to give up. I can’t get my head around ‘never’,” said Kieran.
A well-known singer, Kieran said he doesn’t want to sing from a wheelchair but didn’t fully rule out getting behind a microphone again in the future: “I’ve no interest in going back singing from a wheelchair, and I mean that. Catriona at Penny Dinners asked me would I come and sing a song for a suicide awareness night. I did, I came in in my wheelchair and I sang two songs and I kind of felt there and then that singing from a wheelchair is definitely not me,” said Kieran.
He continued: “Now, if I can get myself up on my legs or balance myself on a stool? Maybe I can in the future, but I have no interest in doing it from a wheelchair. It’s a definite no.”
A GoFundMe campaign was set up this day last week to help raise funds to help Kieran adjust to his new way of living and his medical expenses. Amongst other things, Kieran will need an adapted car, living space adaptions and a powered wheelchair. All donations are highly appreciated.
To donate, visit gofundme.ie and search for ‘Help Kieran Recover from Severe Spinal Condition’.